Hot Riding, Riding Hot

20 Feb

Hot Riding
This is the time of year to start enjoying riding our bikes. Here in south Texas we are already getting some days that are in the upper 70’s. I feel sorry for you fellow riders who are suffering in doors on the trainer or who are not getting any ride time due to cold and/or snow. I had the opportunity to ride the roadie the past two days. Nothing too big, just enough to shake the cobwebs out and to blow a little of the rust out of the pipes.
We get to enjoy nine or ten months of good riding weather. If you don’t mind four of those being blazing hot! Take notice of the temperature shown in the photo above of my old Bell f20 speedometer. It is reading 112.0 Fahrenheit. That photo was taken June 16, 2012 on the Leon Creek Greenbelt pathway. June is a warm month but it is July, August and September you have to watch out for here. Just as some in the northern areas can’t ride in the cold months we have to be careful of the hot ones. You might say but that is dry heat! Sorry to tell you that much of the moisture that feeds up in to the plains and mid-west came from the gulf coast right across south Texas. We spend most of our year in the 70% to 80% humidity range.
What do we do you ask? We will try to ride early in the day when the overnight low has taken the temperature all the way down in to the 80’s. Riding in the relative cool of the morning helps but that is not always available.
Yes, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate if you even think about it at these temperatures it may be too late. If you get the least bit behind you’re done for. You can’t drink enough or fast enough to replenish while you are riding. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t had to stop and relive yourself (peeing) every one to two hours you’re not drinking enough for the high temperatures. At two hours you must stop and drink a quart if you haven’t had to relive yourself. When we ride in the heat we each take two 20 oz water bottles and will drink one every 7 to 10 miles or less. Planning on stopping to get drinks every 15 to 20 miles. We will refill bottles several times in a 50 or 60 mile ride.
We always try to ride as a buddy system, trying to always ride in pairs or groups. We learn to watch out for the signs of overheating. The Red Face, not tracking a straight line, dropping back and falling off the pace, not conversing, sort or wrong answers to questions, quick temper, lethargic or slow comprehension, cramps. Knowing what to do is just as important and recognizing the problem.
When people are working outside in the heat and you tell them they should take a break they recognize they should. It’s work and everybody knows that if you’re working hard in the heat you will need breaks. When a rider is overheated he may not recognize he needs a break. He may not feel the heat getting to him. He has the wind blowing on him as he rides. This can fool you in to exceeding safe heat limits. Riders may resist stopping or taking a break. What to do? Play weak! Get the overheated rider to wait for you, tell them you’re over cooked. Slow down to a very easy pace; get them to slow to a coasting pace. Start drinking, even little sips, making a show of it, you’re trying to encourage the thought of drinking. The overheated one likely won’t recognize they haven’t been drinking enough. Make sure they have water and or sport drink to gulp. If not, it is imperative that you get this to them. They are losing the ability to comprehend what is best for them. Stop someplace to refill your water, if you can’t find some place immediately share yours. Pouring or dumping cool (not cold) water on the head, neck and shoulders is a good way to get the brain temperature down to the point they can think again. Ice water can be dangerous. You can cause shock if you get too aggressive with the cooling.
In a case like this I have never seen a convenience store clerk not let a rider sit in the stores air conditioning while he drinks a large sports drink (that he bought at this store). Getting a troubled rider in to cool air is best. Fill them with fluid and sit them out of the sun in the air conditioning and they will revive in short order. When they do don’t let them push on, they will have a lot of residual heat that will take hours to dissipate. It will also take hours to get the fluid back in them. When a steak is overcooked you can’t make it rare! Only cool time will fix this. It is best if they get someone to pick them up. If you’re going to continue riding ride slow, coast down hills.
Some of the stores around here are carrying a sport drink call “Pickle Juice”. This stuff tastes nasty! Think of taking and drinking the juice out of a jar of pickles. This stuff works! In my case when I’m getting cramps I throw down a little bottle (2.5 oz) and drink some water and in a couple in minutes I’m fine. I have used it for the last couple of Tour de Cure rides with great success.
Take care of each other and be smart, enjoy the ride, protect the rider.

One Response to “Hot Riding, Riding Hot”

  1. Daniel Weise February 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Good post. I hear you on the riding weather! Here in the southwest it was just gorgeous last weekend and I got out for a wonderful ride. We at least do get the dry heat, but I’ve been out in 118 degrees and you are right – you can’t hydrate fast enough! On th eflip side I’ve dropped 5 lbs during a ride! Of course it was all water…

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